The following is one part gear review, one part police assessment to gauge the effectiveness of the product.
I always love it when new products come out. This is amplified when said product has the potential to save the lives of our police officers and anyone else who may be using it. I've had this EDC Flannel shirt for several months now, because I wanted to make sure I gathered as many professional opinions as possible about it, before it went live.
Sadly, the shirt I was sent does not fit me. This is of no fault to Cherries Apparel, the company who sells them. I run into this problem on a regular basis, and can only wear “tall” or “XXLT” shirts.
So, what's different about this one? This one has the unique ability to identify the wearer as a “good guy” if he's ever involved in a critical incident. If you ever find yourself in that situation, one of the chest pockets pulls off to show a reflective “police” or “CCW” patch to show responding cops that you're not a threat. Here is a short video of the shirt's developer giving a demonstration of how the EDC Flannel works:
As a bit of a side note, you may have recognized the man from the video as former Israeli Special Forces Dude, Aaron Cohen. Haven't heard of him? Well, if you watch Fox News or the Outdoor Channel, you've seen him and didn't even know it. Here is a short 30 second video with a beardless Aaron, and everyone's favorite Gunny having a blast with an Uzi:
I got the opinions of several current and retired law enforcement officers, each with different backgrounds. Some of them are/were state troopers, others are county police. One of them serves in the same Prince George's County Barracks where an officer was gunned down by friendly fire outside the building.
Each officer gave me his honest opinion about the shirt, and each one had a bit of a different take on it. One said that “it's better than nothing” and another said “it'd be good in an active shooter scenario.”
One of the state troopers, Corporal Hoover, gave me a full, one page opinion piece on the shirt. He had this to say: So far as being used for plain-clothes police officers, this product is a good product. You can always plan to show up for work prepared for plain-clothes duty wearing the clothing and using it for what it is designed for.
He went on to say, however, that you cannot rely solely on what the shirt says, because any criminal can go out and buy one if he so desires. He recommended that both police officers and concealed gun carriers begin to practice verbal commands as a part of their training regimen. The shirt is a good starting point, but as another officer, who I'll just call Scott, pointed out in his response: If he comes onto a scene where a gun was used, he's paying more attention to “actions, rather than garments.”
There is an issue, however—though not with the shirt itself. One of the reflective patches is a “CCW” patch. Corporal Hoover had this to say about it:
“Unfortunately, there is no universally recognized symbol to visually identify a person as a “law-abiding citizen” to any police officer responding to a critical incident. The responding officers would simply make a judgment call based on the totality of the circumstances they see in front of them, and would most likely disregard any symbol being displayed as “CCW” simply because it is not a recognized symbol such as a badge, uniform or a marker displaying the word “POLICE”, “SHERIFF” or another LEO related word.”
In other words, not everyone knows what CCW means. You'd like to think that they do, but there are those out there who don't. Causing more confusion, here, in my home state of Pennsylvania, we have what is known as a license to carry firearms or, LTCF. In other parts of the country, they may say CWL or CCP. Those terms are all recognized in their home state, but CCW may not be used.
This could be an issue if someone from a state that calls it one thing is in a state that calls it something totally different. There is no such issue for the “police” badge. It means what it means.
Another LEO raised concern about the cost of having to buy more than one for each day of the week. After all, he said, this is an EDC shirt, and to get the best use out of it and your training, you'd need to wear one every day. I think I agree with him to a specific point on this. Then again, there are always ways to combat this if you get creative.
Finally, here are some recommendations I have for Cherries Apparel, the company offering the shirt:
- It may be a good idea to offer more colors. Personally, I haven't worn a flannel shirt like this since I was in grade school when my mom didn't know any better. Having said that, he does offer the OD green and solid black ones, and they look great.
- It is a good idea to offer more sizes. I'm a big dude standing tall at 6'4” and weighing 300 pounds. I usually need to wear a tall shirt. The one I was sent did not fit me.
- It's a good idea to offer short-sleeve shirts. I wear short-sleeved shirts year round, even in northeastern Pennsylvania. I just don't really like the feeling of long-sleeves on my arms. Maybe I'm weird, but I feel constricted in them.
Overall, I think the EDC Flannel is a great idea that may save some lives with a retail price (according to the website) of $49.95. The sooner we can identify ourselves as “good guy” the better off we'll be. Having said that, however, the recommendations of the LEOs are real, in that verbal commands and actions are always taken into account before signage. Perhaps, adding verbal commands to your regular training regimen is a good idea, so that you know what to say once you pull the pocket down, revealing to the arriving police who you are.
What would you say? If you are a police officer, you'd say something along the lines of: I am officer so and so from precinct 2. My badge number is 867-5309 (<—see what I did there?). Is it alright if I reach for my badge to show you who I am?
If you're a civilian, you could say something like: My name is Joshua Gillem. I have a license to carry a concealed firearm. My firearm is holstered (show your empty hands). What should I do next? That last step is all important. The last thing you're gonna want to do is stress out an already stressed out cop after a shooting occurred.
Sound Off Gun Carriers! Do you own any concealed carry shirts? Let us know in the comments below.